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Justice League of America #31

Posted: Monday, March 30, 2009
By: Shawn Hill

Dwayne McDuffie
Shane Davis, Sandra Hope (i)
DC Comics
"Welcome to Sundown Town, Interlude: Crisis of Confidence"

Plot: Dinah's mad as hell, and Hal's not going to take it anymore. Nor, apparently, are we.

Comments: Tangent heroes; Suicide Squad; Shadow Cabinet; Final Crisis amidst all the crises and crossovers and guest stars impinging on McDuffie's run, it's been hard to maintain a focus on this team. Where are the promised big guns? The majority of it has gone to Vixen and Amazo, unlikely antagonists set up by Meltzer's initial run. We've also had fill-in artists and writers, including a spate of back-up stories that added little to the (dearth of) main action.

The McDuffie era has been uneven and hard to love. That the current antagonist is some sort of Silver Age space vampire isn't really giving one much hope for earth-shattering excitement on this title, nor is the focus on Dr. Light as the new star of the team. Formidable and powerful or not, she's never been well-liked (or all that likable), and McDuffie's use of her as a plot point rather than a character since her introduction hasn't helped.

The cover image (by the much-missed Benes, who should be inside these pages) shows the big three marching out of town, and makes this look like a final issue. Apparently it's not, but inside Dinah is in the doldrums, as she realizes those three have already left, and now even Ollie and Hal (her long-time partners) have other plans than working for her.

Here's what I don't get. I can see being depressed in the wake of the Anti-Life Equation's deployment on Earth. But here everyone seems to be blaming Dinah for allowing the invasion to happen on her watch (except for Hal, who ridiculously blames her for Batman's death). Did no one notice the actual story, where her protection of the satellite (not the Earth based Hall of Justice, which was lost by Green Arrow and John Stewart IIRC) resulted in turning away Darkseid's forces, and rescuing Ollie from his shock troops to boot? Her struggle for the Satellite was one of the high points of the war (which of course Batman won, but then he always does). Everyone should be applauding her grit, not condemning her poor leadership skills.

I mean, I get it, it's time for the old saw again: the pro-active vs. re-active team. I know there's a new Justice League coming, but I didn't realize it was going to steal this one's thunder. The most recent example of this approach I remember is Nightwing's Outsiders, which was going to search for trouble while the Titans persisted in their soap opera. That lasted for about 20 issues or so, and now the book's been rebooted what, three times more?

This book hasn't been working because it hasn't been integral to any of the major crossovers that now dominate the company. In fact, it's been damaged by them, interrupting stories that were underway. There's been no sense of momentum in this iteration of the Justice League, and McDuffie's best issues have built on what Meltzer established. But his issues were basically a Red Tornado solo story, with a little soap opera for the rest of the team.

Maybe Robinson's new league (led by Hal) will imbue some needed energy and freshness to the concept again. This issue sadly brings up the Detroit League, and the comparison is all too apt.

Aside from one egregious error on page one (where for some reason we see Diana when it's Dinah who's speaking), Davis does a fine job on this talking heads issue. He blows up everyone's faces to poster size, in fact, the better to let us see the beautiful people argue. And the best dialogue comes from Mari calling John Stewart an Uncle Tom (no kidding). It's a grim but competent issue, capturing Dinah's bitter mood. It's just that she (and the title) deserve better treatment than a cold-hearted dismissal.



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